Monday, September 22, 2008

Ginger "Snaps"

These have the flavor of a ginger snap... minus the snap.... they aren't hard and crunchy like the kind you get at the store. They are chewy... and delicious! We shall call them... Ginger Chewies. These are one of my all time favorite cookies. Thanks to Whitney Muir for giving me the recipe last year! A definite keeper.
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
*sugar, for rolling cookies in
*I use "sugar in the raw"/turbinado sugar for rolling the cookies in. What the heck is that, you ask???? Well,
"Turbinado sugar, also known as turbinated sugar, is made from sugar cane extract. It is produced by crushing freshly cut sugar cane; the juice obtained is evaporated and then spun in a centrifuge, or turbine (thus the name), which results in the characteristic large, light brown crystals.... A popular brand name for turbinado sugar is Sugar in the Raw."
Thanks Wiki.
Anyway, I like the big sugar crystals. They add a nice texture and taste to the outside of the cookie. I just bought it at a normal grocery store.... like Walmart or something. Give it a try!
1) Preheat oven to 350'
2) Cream shortening and sugar in large bowl.
3) Add molasses and egg; beat well.
4) In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Gradually add this to the shortening mixture; mix well.
5) Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
6) Bake 10-12 minutes.
7) Carefully remove from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.
The cookies will be quite soft when you remove them from the pan, but they "harden" as they cool. If you don't take them off when they are still soft like that, they will be crunchy.... so I guess, if you want them crunchy, you can leave them on. I like them chewy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Grandma Kirkham's Delicious Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 cup Shortening
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup warmed Milk
1/2 tablespoon Salt
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon Dry Yeast
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
5 1/2 cups Flour
Other ingredients: Butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins (optional)

Cream shortening, sugar, and salt. Add water and milk. Add yeast and let bubble. In separate bowl, beat together eggs, vanilla, and nutmeg. Add to mixture. Add flour and mix well. Cover and let rise until doubled. Put dough onto well floured surface. (The dough is going to be pretty sticky, so make sure you have plenty of flour down so it doesn't stick). Dust the dough with more flour, then roll out to a rectangle. Spread with melted butter. Put a fairly thick layer of brown sugar and dust the whole thing with cinnamon. Add raisins (optional). Roll up the dough, then slice off the rolls using a piece of string or floss.
This is how you slice with the floss (or string).
Coat the floss in flour if needed. Then slide it under the end of the roll.
(in this demo, I am using a rolled up towel and pink shoe laces.... so you can see better....)

Cross the ends over the top....

Then pull them to the sides until the floss cuts through, making a perfect roll!

Place the rolls on a greased pan.

Let rise.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

Frost the rolls once they are cooled a bit (Frosting recipe below). These cinnamon rolls freeze really well. Just individually wrap them each up tight in plastic wrap and pop them in the freezer. When you're ready to eat one, unwrap it and put it into the microwave until warm and delicious!

3 cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons Milk
Mix powdered sugar and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk. Gradually beat in just enough milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable.


Are you ready for an adventure??? Biryani is an Indian/Pakistani dish. If you've ever been to an Indian restaurant and like that type of food, you'll like this! It's not your every day chicken dish, but, come on people! Give those taste buds a little something new and exotic!


Chicken legs and thighs, on the bone but with the skin off
One large onion, sliced
3 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
One anaheim chili pepper, sliced
1-2 tomatoes,chopped
1/2 to 1 potato chopped into 1/4 inch cubes (depends how big your potatoes are)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
about 1/2 teaspoon salt (you can always add more later...)
6 whole cloves
1 inch of a cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
5 whole pepper corns
1 cup chicken broth
fresh mint leaves

Get your rice cooking first so it will be ready. Here's what you need.

2 cups jasmine or basmati rice

4 cups chicken broth

1 inch cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

Put those four ingredients in a rice cooker or in a pot and cook until rice is done.

Now, while the rice is cooking......

Put oil in a large saute pan or electric skillet and saute onions and potatoes until onions start to brown a little.
Add the ginger and garlic and saute.
Add the cloves, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, turmeric powder, chili powder, salt, and whole pepper corns. Mix together.
Add chicken pieces and start to brown those up.

(I didn't let the chicken brown up enough before I added the tomatoes in the above picture....make sure you cook it a bit more first....I learned...)

Then, add tomatoes and 1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth. Start out with less. Add more as needed. If it all dries out too much before the chicken is done cooking, you'll want to add more broth. Let cook at at simmer until chicken is completely cooked and sauce is reduced. Usually, I'll cover it for a little while, then leave the lid off so the sauce can reduce. You don't want it too liquidy. Once the chicken is done, the sauce is reduced, and your rice is cooked, start adding rice in to the rest of your goods. Don't just add it all in.... add it in gradually, mixing as you go, until you appear to have a good sauce to rice ratio. If you add to much rice, you won't get much flavor. And I'm all about flavor! The rice will kind of soak up any remaining liquid and soak up all the flavors. Yummm..... Usually I add it until it looks about right, then put the rest of the rice out on the table as well, so people can add more rice to their own if they want it that way.

Before you serve it, add fresh, chopped mint leaves over the top.

Sometime we've noticed... if it tastes a little bland.... we just have to add more salt!!! It is amazing how a little more salt can just enhance all the flavors that are already there! so, make sure you've got salt out on the table.

And, there you have it. Your first, home cooked Pakistani/Indian dish!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Zuppa Toscana (as had at Olive Garden)

(yeah, I stole the picture from the Olive Garden website.... whats your point?)


1 lb ground Italian sausage -- This is NOT the same as breakfast sausage. Make sure it says ITALIAN sausage. You can usually find it by the other ground meats. We use hot, but you can use mild if you don't like things too hot. If you can't find just a package of ground italian sausage, you can buy the uncooked Italian sausage links, and just remove the casings off the sausage links.

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (DON'T add this if you used the HOT sausage... it will be plenty hot already! If you used mild sausage, perhaps start out with a little less pepper flakes at first, if you're not sure how spicey you want it)
1 large diced white onion

3 pieces of bacon

2 Tablespoons finely chopped garlic

3 cans chicken broth

4 cups water

2-3 chicken bouillon cubes (You might want to add the 3rd one if the flavor isn't quite strong enough. It's up to your taste preference)

1 cup heavy cream

1 lb sliced russet OR yukon gold potatoes (I always use more potatoes than this, because the potatoes seem to melt into the soup a bit by the end, and if you don't add extra, you aren't left with many actual potato chunks at the end. Don't slice them TOO thin... this will help also.)

fresh kale, cut in small pieces
(what is kale??? take a look.... its a green leafy vegetable. you can find it at most grocery stores. You don't HAVE to add this if you are anti-green vegetables. But, it is very tasty)


1 Saute the sausage and crushed red pepper flakes (if using) in pot until mostly done. Drain excess fat, and refrigerate while you prepare the other ingredients.

2 In the same pan, cook up the bacon until crispy. Remove bacon pieces and set aside.

3 Saute onions and garlic in the bacon grease for approximately 15 minutes or until the onions are soft.

3 Add the broth, water and boullion cubes to the onions and garlic. Cook until boiling.

4 Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.

5 Add heavy cream and cook until thouroughly heated.

6 Stir in the sausage, crumbled bacon, and kale (if using).

Enjoy this delicious soup with some crusty bread. It is sooooo good. One of our favorites!